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Spaniards start strongly at Tennis Masters Cup
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Spaniards Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer both notched up a winning start at the Gold Group action of the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai on Sunday.

The sixth seed David Ferrer was not seriously tested by an error-prone Serb Novak Djokovic in the efficient 6-4, 6-4 opening victory while world number two Rafael Nadal followed a different path, overcoming a sluggish start to beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet in full sets.

Ferrer and Djokovic [Photo: Sina.com]

Ferrer and Djokovic, both in their first appearance at the elite Masters Cup, should have had the encounter a stellar one, but world number three Djokovic, who committed an uncharacteristic 41 unforced errors against just 20 from his Spanish opponent, was strangely out of sorts, and a brief flurry of winners in the final game proved too little, too late.

"I think maybe he was a bit nervous," said Ferrer. "I'm playing with confidence and physically I'm in great shape at the last part of this season."

Ferrer, the Spanish number two, has had a very solid last-quarter of the season with his first-ever grand slam semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, a title in Tokyo, and a quarter-finals showing in Paris.

The 25-year-old used one service break in each sets to take the match in one hour and 42 minutes and improved the record against the Serb to 3-2.


Gasquet, only 15 days Nadal's junior and also in his first Masters Cup appearance, totally overwhelmed Nadal in the first set but failed to keep his consistency, losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the blockbuster Gold Group clash after a little more than two hours.

Nadal, who reached the semifinals last year in his first Tennis Masters Cup appearance, looked muscle-bound and hence under-performing in the opening set, dropping serve in the eighth game after some sloppy play, but came back quickly in the remaining time.

"I was playing good (in the first set), and the key was my serve. It was important to serve well against Rafa, because when you have to play with a second serve it's really hard as he has a lot of topspin," said Gasquet, who blasted 12 aces against only five from the Mallorcan.


The two 21-year-olds, who have clashed three times before with the Spaniard winning all meetings, raised up respective game later, producing some impressive tennis to amuse the full-packed Qi Zhong Tennis Stadium located in southern Shanghai.

In a roller coaster second set, Nadal broke, was broken but then broke again in successive games before clinching it 6-3, pumping his fists in celebration.

After that, Nadal seemed to have the whole match in control en route to the happy ending.

"Well, I feel a little bit nervous at the beginning as every match is against the best player, so I start the match with doubts, " said the second-seeded Nadal.

"But later I play a little bit more aggressive and the turning point was breaking in the beginning of the second set. I thought I finished much better than the start."

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2007)

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